Saturday, February 28, 2015

UPDATE 2/28/15 AFTER 50 YEARS VOKSON REUNITES



An illustration of running back Ladanian Tomlinson.
When I was in sixth grade at St. Frederick’s in Pontiac, Michigan, I had the extreme good fortune to meet my good friend Fred Jackson.  We soon discovered that we both liked to read comic books, but what really astounded me was that Fred was already making his own homemade comics. And better yet, he soon taught me the process and we soon had our own mock company called Vokson.
Fred’s comics were far superior to any of my crude attempts. He already had several issues of a Mad parody called Cool,Calm and Crazy, as well runs of his adventure character Smollett Jones (for which he used the O.E. system of naming his protagonist ala Sherlock Holmes and Nero Wolfe…and this is a 12 year old) as well as the superhero  , with my favorite villain, the son of Fu Manchu. 

Over the next few years we cranked out dozens and dozens of books and traded them back and forth to read. Needless to say, I learned a great deal about storytelling and the creative process from this association with Fred; without that friendship I certainly never would have gravitated toward my own career as a graphic storyteller. Hmmm…should I be thanking  or blaming him.

Since I didn’t have TV at my house in those days, I also learned a lot from Fred about all the cool shows and movies I was missing out on: Abbot and Costello, Shock Theatre, etc. I was listening to The Shadow on the radio, and Fred was reading the pulp stories. We both read a lot of Sax Rohmer and loved detective stories.
And we both visited each other’s houses from time to time. Which isn’t that odd except that Fred lived in the black neighborhood of Pontiac and I lived in the very white (trash) neighborhood of Auburn Heights. This type of stuff was frowned upon, but fortunately both our parents were fairly progressive for their time.
(One of the pencil roughs Fred did when we collaborated on a Clark Equipment manual in the early 80's)

Fred still lives in Pontiac while I have ended up on Tujunga,CA but we have always kept in touch over the years. So when I started working on the latest story arc of The Mad Mummy, and needed someone to give me an editorial assist with the scripts, and I was wracking my brain to think of who could help me, it seemed only natural to pick on…er, to pick out Fred. It’s fifty years later, and VOKSON REUNITES!! And the best thing about collaborations, if they are successful, it’s easy enough to claim the glory, and if they fail, there is always someone there to take the blame. (And you thought I had learned nothing while working in comics and movies.)

All kidding aside, it’s great to be involved in the creative process with Fred Jackson again. Thanks, my friend!

(For those of you interested in seeing more of our youthful creations, here is a link to a previous blog about the subject:
 http://vozwords.blogspot.com/2011/07/vokson-comics-made-by-kids.html  )


Below, and above are a few pages from the The Mad Mummy #6. I’ve been trying something a little different on this issues. After I finish the inking, I’ve been going bad and adding just a bit of Prismacolor pencil to create a bit of shading, similar to Crafttint/Duotone process. I certainly didn’t invent this process; Alex Toth, Howard Chaykin and others have certainly tried it- it was a fairly common approach in the 30’s and 40’s newspaper illustrations. I’ve always thought my best drawings were ones in my sketchbook where I used a combination of pencil and ink, so it made sense to me to try and incorporate that into this work. I’m curious to see how it looks once the color is added. But, check back for that next week….
The original She-Hulk cover, and below, my 2015 version.
Ms. Marvel: A pin-up I penciled years ago, but for some reason hadn't inked.



Best,


Mike

Saturday, February 21, 2015

THE DRAWINGS OF BOB PEAK




When I was an young and ignorant wannabe cartoonist long before I discovered illustrators,  I knew who Bob Peak was. His drawings on My Fair Lady, Camelot, and numerous other movie posters and TV Guide covers were things that I had seen…and they impressed me tremendously. 


As I learned a bit more about art and the wonderful talents that worked in the field of illustration, Bob Peak still remained one of the giants for me. The sublime designs and the his spontaneous approach to the drawings display a facility with the work that never fails to amaze me.



His son Tom has already one produced one must have book on his father’s work: The Art of Bob Peak. (If you don’t have this one, visit www.bobpeak.com immediately and pick it up. Trust me. You won’t be disappointed.) 



Now Tom has a Kickstarter campaign to produce another book: The Drawings of Bob Peak. As you look as the examples I’ve posted from my tear sheet collection, you can see that this is another “don’t miss” opportunity. (And I say this from experience. To this day I still mourn the Japanese edition of a collection of Bob Peak’s drawings that I’ve never been able to find or replace.) Unfortunately, I wasn't able to upload the Tom's video for the campaign, but it is available at:
Good luck,Tom! Time is precious on this one…the campaign end in another couple days. And if you really want to make an impression, there is a tier where you can actually own an original Bob Peak drawing.

Best,


Mike

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

LORILOVECRAFT.COM RELAUNCHED



Over the past couple of months I been revamping and redesigning my LoriLovecraft.com site to fit my current needs which is promoting my latest comic book projects and creating a storefront to sell my artwork and books. I’ve learned a lot more about html code than I ever really wanted to, but now the revised site is up and available for viewing. So take a look!


One of the best features of the new site is that I’ve been able to organize the best entries of my Vozwords blog (which features my articles and comments on illustrators and working in the field of graphic storytelling) so that you can quickly link to whichever entry you find of interest. It’s certainly more user friendly than the index interface on the Blogstpot site.



Another new addition is previews of all the different Lori Lovecraft, Retrowood, Voodoo Mansion and Mad Mummy stories. If you’ve missed any of these you can get a quick rehash of the story and art…as well as a link to where the work is available.



There are also a number of my newest paintings and comic book originals for sale in a gallery. Stop by and browse.



Those are just some, but not all of the features of the site. Be my guest and take a look. And if you do discover a type here or there or a link that doesn’t work quite right on your browser, be sure to let me know….and I’ll head back to the coding station with a sigh.

“The closer psychologists look at the career of the gifted, the smaller the role innate talent seems to play and the bigger the role preparation seems to play.”
“Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.”
Malcolm Gladwell Outliers

I’ve been reading a great book called Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell that examines why some people are successful and others aren’t.  It reiterates my own feeling about talent: to paraphrase Einstein, genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. One of Gladwell’s discoveries is that any success is built on the 10,000 hour rule; you have to work at something that long before you master it. His other finding are that where you live and when you live are major factors. If you’re living in a totalitarian society or during a severe economic crisis, success is going to be much more difficult, than if you’re living in America during a time of great prosperity. Personality traits and social background are also major contributors. Some cultures are better at teaching their children how to integrate in the existing societies, and no matter how skilled you are, it’s difficult to work with an asshole.

The bottom line is that doing the work will not guarantee success, but not doing the work will guarantee failure. So just keep at it, enjoy , and hope for the best. Here are a few of my sketchbook pages for the week. Next week, more on the latest issue of Mad Mummy!







Best,

Mike


Saturday, January 31, 2015

On Robert Fawcett Part 2

My whimsical portrait of Robert Fawcett with his pet cats.

One glance at a Robert Fawcett drawing and it becomes apparent that you're looking at the work of a remarkable draftsman and storyteller. But look closer. Mixed in with realism at every opportunity are incredible miniature abstracts of shape and pattern which translate as the realistic detail.




Born in England, but raised in Canada and then New York, Bob studied two years at the famous Slade School of London. He returned to NYC and began working commercial jobs (which he signed with his signature R.F.) to support a fine arts career. Fawcett's experiences with the "selling" of fine art disillusioned him and he turned all his energy to his commercial work. He was immediately successful.





During this time Fawcett remained aloof from his fellow illustrators. He became an accomplished musician, turning to this artform to deal with his inner emotional turmoil. However, as he discovered himself as an artist and a person, Fawcett also came to the realization that "everything I do is fine art."




Slightly colorblind, he was never a painter of the stature of Wyeth, Rockwell, or Parker; as a draftsman he was their peer, and as a designer he was on a level of his own. His uncompromising eye kept him from becoming a leading "romance" artist, one of the mainstays of illustration at the time. But that same quality made him a superior storyteller, with his attention to detail and his sense of mood drawing the viewer into the picture.






By the mid-forties Fawcett's work could be found every week in stories and full page ads in the Post, Colliers, Holiday, Cosmopolitan and a number of other magazines. The subject matter may vary from the Alamo to Sherlock Holmes, but the execution was always the same. Dynamic compositions with characters that breathed life and minute detail that made you believe you WERE there. Fawcett's last assignments were doing documentary type illustrations for LOOK, a magazine that relied almost exclusively on photographs!





Fawcett, along with Albert Dorne and Fred Ludekens, instituted the Famous Illustrators school, where they produced what is still the best set of how-to books available for learning the craft. He also wrote On the Art of Drawing, and On Drawing the Nude, by Howard Munce, is based on his notes and drawing. Both are excellent texts on understanding his sense of draftsmanship and his approach to the craft.






While I was sharing studio space with Howard Chaykin he introduced me to Fawcett's work. It was immediately evident the influence this artist had made on my favorite cartoonists-Toth, Kubert, Wood, and an entire generation of cartoonists of the 40's. 50's, and 60's. Much to the dismay of my editors, Fawcett has had the same effect on me.